Shaun Bailey, who is up against Mr Khan in the race to be Mayor of London next year, has called on him to “de-twin London and Beijing”. The Tory mayoral candidate made the comments after the wife of Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who was arrested by China accused of espionage in December 2018, spoke out about a recent virtual consular visit he received. She said in a statement: “After 10 months without consular access and extreme isolation, Michael was greatly relieved to receive news from the outside world.
“He was particularly heartened by reassurances regarding the health of everyone in his family and the ongoing efforts to secure his freedom.
He was astonished to learn about the details of the COVID-19 pandemic and remarked that it all sounded like some “zombie apocalypse”.
Ben Judah, who is author of the books ‘This Is London’ and ‘Fragile Empire’, tweeted: “Unbelievable.
“Chinese authorities had given Michael Kovrig no contact and no news of the outside world since January so he has only just learnt about the pandemic.
Sadiq Khan is coming under increasing pressure to cut London’s ties to China
Shaun Bailey is piling the pressure on Sadiq Khan over scrapping London’s ties with China
“Chilling to think there are a few in similar conferments who do not yet know.
This sparked a furious reaction from Mr Bailey towards mayoral rival Mr Khan, demanding he cut ties between London and Beijing.
He tweeted: “@SadiqKhan says he has “no quarrel” with the Chinese Government.
“I have a quarrel with those who violate human rights. I have a quarrel with those who commit genocide.
The Tory mayoral candidate has urged Sadiq Khan to ‘de-twin London and Beijing’
“I’m calling for London to send a message. De-twin London and Beijing. It’s sad that @SadiqKhan disagrees.”
But Tory candidate Mr Bailey has previously been corrected for apparently incorrectly claiming Mr Khan said he had “no quarrel” with the Chinese Government.
In a similar Twitter post on October 6, he wrote: “London needs to send a message that genocide will not be tolerated.
“That’s why I’ve called on @SadiqKhan to de twin London and Beijing.
“While I’m disappointed that he rejected this and says that he has ‘no quarrel’ with the Chinese government, I urge him to reconsider.”
Len Duvall recently corrected Shaun Bailey over comments he made about Sadiq Khan
Dominic Raab has lashed out at China on several occassions
But Len Duvall, London Assembly Member for Greenwich & Lewisham, Leader of the London Assembly Labour Group, accused Mr Bailey of a “deliberate attempt to mislead Londoners”.
He replied in a tweet on October 7: “Actually, Shaun, what the Mayor said was that he had no quarrel with the people of Beijing.
“He did NOT say that he had no quarrel with the Chinese government.
“Your deliberate attempt to mislead Londoners is shameful.”
Diplomatic relations between the UK and China have deteriorated significantly over recent months, primarily around the controversial security law imposed on Hong Kong and the Government’s decision to ban Huawei from the country’s 5G network.
China has the largest military in the world
Dominic Raab said the UK would suspend its extradition agreement with Hong Kong over security, but China hit back and warned Britain will have to “bear the consequences” of that move.
The Foreign Secretary had also told parliament the treaty would be immediately suspended and an arms embargo would also be extended to Hong Kong.
Last week, Mr Raab suggested Britain could boycott the winter Olympics in Beijing amid concerns surrounding human rights abuses in China against Uighur Muslims.
There are reports of as many as one million of the ethnic population being detained in what are called “re-education camps”.
Mr Raab said it was “clear that there is evidence of serious and egregious human rights violations” against the community.
He added: “I think the concerns of what’s happening to the Uighurs – the detention, the mistreatment, the forced sterilisation – is something that we cannot just turn away from.
“But obviously we want to gather the evidence carefully and work very closely with our international partners.
“And that’s what we’re doing, as I’ve said. We have led the way, not just in the human rights council, but in the third committee in the UN and will continue to do so.”
When asked whether Britain could boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, the Foreign Secretary suggested this could be the case.
However, he added: “But there comes a point where that may not be possible. I would say let’s gather the evidence, let’s work with our international partners, let’s consider in the round what further action we need to take.”